At long last, we celebrate the release of Guild Wars 2! Not only is this a time of celebration, it is also a week of exploration and discovery. As a community, we can begin our personal quests to see and experience the new world of Tyria, 250 years after the pivotal events in Eye Of The North. The Elder Dragons have awoken, but coincedentally, so have the Sylvari. Follow along with me after the break as I share my first experiences and first impressions. My first adventures as a Ranger during the headstart weekend.
Before The Dawn
In the 5 1/2 years I spent playing Guild Wars, I developed a family of human characters that eventually became known as The Evenfeather Family. After it became known that we (as players) would be able to reserve our character names for Guild Wars 2, I had decided that I was going to continue the Family line in the sequel. At the time, it made sense. The humans and their history would be well known and writing a story to link the Family’s ancestors and the descendants between the two games would be fairly easy to develop.
A couple of months before the launch, I disbanded the Family legacy idea completely and chose to walk a different path altogether. I wanted to walk through and experience the changed world of Tyria with a fresh perspective and to see it for the first time through eyes of child-like wonder. For my Ranger’s race, I decided upon Sylvari. I chose my first character to be Sylvari because they have such a deep rooted connection to the earth, just as I do. The Sylvari, emerging only 25 years ago, are still growing and establishing their presence and purpose in the realm. I can relate to the Sylvari to the extent that I too am still growing, exploring and learning to live in Seattle.
What fate tells of The Evenfeather Family is still a tale to be told, but somehow, there still remains a buried link between them and one Sylvari. Zoeye Wilds.
After The Dawn
For a Sylvari Ranger, Zoeye Wilds turns out to be pretty tough for a walking, talking plant, and her companions are fairly spry as well. Starting out from Caledon Forest, I chose my first companion to be a Fern Hound, an artistically, beautiful, plant-like version of a wolf. In my early travels through the forest, I quickly learned how to use the fern hound’s Area-of-Effect (AoE) healing skill (assigned as F3 on the keyboard). I explored and completed all of the Heart events in the forest and then followed my personal story through The Grove until it took me into the Asuran lands of Metrica Province. This is where the story gets really interesting.
(Personal Story Spoilers)
After retrieving an ancient Orrian mirror from the Skritt, one of our Sylvari friends gets sucked into the mirror. Another segment later, the Asuran Engineer takes us to her lab where she tries to ingeniously pull the Sylvari back through the mirror, only to open the mirror’s doorway for a swath of undead from Orr to come barreling through (I think I even saw an Risen Cow in there somewhere). The Asura makes a sly comment about re-tuning her equipment to lock on to the Sylvari’s plant-like signature. The whole event is superbly written and the references to Star Trek are even more appreciated.
As my personal story moved forward, I am introduced to the three major orders of Tyria, The Durmand Priory, The Order of Whispers, and The Vigil. In one mission, we are sent into the human lands of Kryta to vanquish more undead with the help of golemites. Golemites are minature versions of the Golems that are built and engineered by the Asura. For this segment, you take control of the golemites to drop mines to destroy the undead. When the mission started, I thought that there was going to be an army of golems to join me as I rushed in to the battle. *insert wrong buzzer sound* Turns out I missed the control console right away.
(End of Spoilers)
Afterward, I decided that I was going to explore all of the level 1-15 areas first, and thus I completed all the hearts in Metrica Province and Queensdale, and cleared all of the vistas, waypoints, and points of interest in Rata Sum and Divinity’s Reach. Next stop, Hoelbrak.
Did You ‘Party’ Till Dawn?
Over the course of the weekend, I manage to progress to level 25 and thus far, I am having a splendid time in Guild Wars 2. I went to see the Eye of the North to look at the reward items from the Hall of Monuments. (It still looks good despite the lack of habitation over the years) The Black Moa and Rainbow Jellyfish companions are both sturdy pets in ground and underwater battle. Aside from all the fun I had, I feel compelled to point out something that bothered me through all of my adventures this weekend.
In Guild Wars, forming a party for a mission, quest, or whatever could be somewhat tedious at times because of many different factors. Either players needed a tank to hold the mobs, maybe they needed an extra person to dish out more damage per second, or more importantly, they likely needed a monk, a healer that was no where to be found in an instanced outpost. Whatever the case, I have a sense to believe that we (as players) are extremely grateful for ArenaNet’s choice to break the holy trinity of MMO’s.
Now that we can each play our own roles in Guild Wars 2, we can also go our own way, which I believe may be a contributing factor to the lack of parties forming in PvE. A five-player party may be a requirement in Structured PvP and optional in World vs. World, but truth be told there is something more fun about sharing an adventure with a party of people in any aspect of a game. During the extent of the weekend I think I partied up with about 4 or 5 separate players. I even asked in /map chat if anyone wanted to do some hearts together. Dead silence.
Something else that caught my eye in /map chat were the player announcements of when dynamic events were happening across a map. For instance, when the Shadow Behemoth rose up from Godslost Swamp, someone would be calling out to attract the attention of others to join in the battle. So, in a sense you are having fun, partying with your fellow players to achieve a common goal in the game. To quote Kormir, the Goddess of Truth, “You never fight alone.”
Unless you are preparing to go into a dungeon with a five-player group, there doesn’t seem to be much use for the party system in PvE. Did you know that you can still call targets using Cntl+T and that pressing T will select the called target? So I pose this question to the community: Now that you have had some time to experience Tyria and revel in your first adventures, are you more or less likely to party up with players in PvE because of the ability to roam freely through the world? What about partying with players to share your personal stories with others? Personal stories are more fun when shared with other players. What is your party style?
The Dawn Is Breaking
Now that I have shared a piece of my personal story with you, it is now your turn to extend the favor by sharing your stories with the community. When I first introduced the Companions’ Crossing column, I spoke of a tavern called The Ranger’s Table. When we sit at The Table, we drink and raise a glass or two or ten to the tales of our adventures. In regaling our stories, we share our insights and our knowledge with each other to be better Rangers, better players, and to help the Guild Wars community thrive as a whole.
So tell me…. “What’s your story?”